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Phil Parkinson looks forward to helping Wrexham take next step on their journey

23 Apr 2023 4 minute read
Wrexham co-owners Ryan Reynolds (left), Rob McElhenney (right) and manager Phil Parkinson (centre) celebrate promotion to the Football League. Photo Martin Rickett PA Images

Phil Parkinson declared Wrexham were at the “start of the journey” after the Welsh club ended their 15-year exile from the Football League.

Wrexham’s 3-1 victory over Boreham Wood gave them the National League title as Notts County’s brave challenge was finally killed off on a pulsating evening at the Racecourse Ground.

Hollywood owners Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney were in tears at the final whistle as the club they bought for £2million in February 2021 shrugged off last season’s promotion near-miss to return to the fourth-tier of English football.

“It’s emotional because I know how much it means to all the people of Wrexham and the supporters,” Parkinson said after emulating his previous managerial promotions at Colchester, Bolton and Bradford.

“There’s a bit of relief as well because of losing in the play-offs last year, to put that right this year has been amazing.

“Notts County have pushed us all the way and it’s been an extraordinary year because we’ve had to win nearly every game.

“We’re certainly not going to get carried away with ourselves. but there is so much potential at this football club.

“I genuinely feel this has been the start of the journey. This is a step – and I’m looking forward to help the club take the next one.

“The club is moving quickly, the aim is to go on. We’ve got to recruit well in the summer and make sure the squad is competitive again next year.”

Wrexham’s story really could be one that a Hollywood scriptwriter came up with.

The club lurched towards relegation and bankruptcy after enjoying golden days on the pitch, both at home and abroad, during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

The Red Dragons were relegated from the Football League in 2008 and in 2011 an unpaid tax bill of £200,000 led to a winding-up petition.

New life

Until Reynolds and McElhenney breathed new life into the club, Wrexham were drifting at the wrong end of the National League and finished 19th in the 2019-20 season.

Parkinson said: “People know we’ve been 15 years outside the league and the journey the club has been on in that time.

“It has been torturous at times with the club nearly going out of business.

“But what the owners have done, the positivity in the town about the football club, and how people have galvanised that has been very special.

“It’s a stigma if your club is not involved in league football, especially one with the history, size and potential of Wrexham.

“It’s right up there with one of my best nights as a manager.

“Always getting over the line is tough because of the expectation people have and the pressure mounts.”

Notts County’s 5-2 win at Maidstone earlier on Saturday had threatened to extend the title race into the final season of the weekend, especially when Boreham Wood striker Lee Ndlovu scored inside 43 seconds.

But Elliot Lee headed a 15th-minute equaliser and Paul Mullin’s stunning second-half double – which took his season’s goals tally to 47 – sealed promotion.

Parkinson said: “To win on Tuesday and get to 107 points – an all-time record – and still not win it, and to go again, has been an amazing challenge. Credit to Notts County for that.

“I’m immensely proud because every time we’ve gone away from home it’s been everybody’s cup final.

“It’s a big game for everybody and we’ve had to deal with that.”

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